Thursday, 2 August 2012

# 103 Mind your words

There has been rather a lot of coverage in the news lately re comments posted on Facebook and Twitter that have got their users into trouble. From racist comments by Olympic entrants that have got them sent home, to mindless members of the public posting nasty comments to other competitors.

It's very easy to punch something in on a mobile phone in the heat of the moment and hit send. Etiquette and care should always be taken on the internet, even more so if you are the face of a business or other cause.

I would never post a gripe, complaint or personal dig at someone on my Facebook or Twitter business page no matter how unprofessional, unreliable or obnoxious they might be to work with or how much they may have wronged me. For that matter, I wouldn't do it on my personal account either. We all have an ethical duty to take care what we post. Things can easily get taken out of context, spread like wild fire and the damage often can't be undone.

I don't think these are appropriate places to air your dirty laundry unless it serves a public good but I see such things pinging up on my newsfeed all the time. If it becomes a habit I simply unsubscribe from the poster or remove them from my friends list altogether. I have no time for whiners or those with a personal axe to grind. If we linked as friends for personal reasons I don't need to know how much you hate your ex or what he did with your next door neighbour to make him your ex. Make a page - separate your professional life from your personal one so I don't have to read it. It often makes me think twice about working with someone if all I see on their Facebook wall is bitching and complaining about work colleagues or family. I don't think it's necessary and frankly I don't care.

Thoughtcrime is Real highlighted a recent case involving Olympic hopeful Tom Daley.

A teenager arrested over a malicious tweet sent to Team GB diver Tom Daley has been issued with a warning. Dorset Police said the 17-year-old boy was held at a guest house in the Weymouth area on suspicion of malicious communications and later bailed. After coming fourth in the men’s synchronised 10m platform diving event on Monday, Daley, 18, from Plymouth received a message on Twitter. It told him he had let down his father Rob, who died in 2011 from cancer.
This kind of mindless idiocy has no place anywhere but it is very hard to stop in the first instance because there are a lot of mindless idiots out there who don't think about the long term effects of their actions or just don't seem to care. 

The most damaging comments, ones which invariably involve someone of note seem to get picked up on by the authorities and press quickly enough and often users have to answer for it. Freedom of speech is one thing, slander or downright blatant misuse of the internet is quite another.

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